Alarm shrieks at 5am. “Please don’t let this be the day I wake without opinion.” It’s the leader writer’s prayer. What’s it to be? Honours fiddling? Scary! Close colleague just got MBE. He’ll take any critical opinion personally. Calls to mind a former editor who, on receiving his OBE, said: “Ee lass, it’s for Other Buggers’ Efforts.”
Can I say bugger in a leader? Arrive in office around 7am. New shoes already hurting. Great Yorkshire Show today. Thank God I don’t have to go there in these heels. Write last night’s TV review, leader (editor’s choice is honours – cheers, Neil), my Thursday column and gossip column for tomorrow’s lifestyle supplement.
2pm: Late lunch with women’s editor and catch up with mail, e-mails, etc. Check proofs of tomorrow’s leader page feature, column, supplement pages and then spot news page making much ado of Yorkshire Evening Post’s successes at the Press Gazette Regional Press Awards at Old Trafford.
Snap at production editor: “Why’ve you used a picture of me looking pissed?” “I couldn’t find one of you not looking pissed!” Concede the point and hit the road home at 6pm.
Overslept. Now I’ll meet ringroad traffic and be frazzled all day. At least the leader’s easy – Iraq, Butler, Blair. Renew indignant cynicism; job’s a good ‘un. Should have dumped new shoes. Still killers. Search internet for causes of swollen feet and ankles. Find DVT, heart disease and kidney failure.
Thank God for that. Thought it was something serious.
11am: Leading Leeds businessman and benefactor just died. Leader page obit, life, times and tributes feature required – massive system crash marks the occasion. Deep joy.
12.30pm: Take angry call from nurse about my filthy hospitals piece “Welcome to the Workhouse”.
Apparently she does wash her hands – and changes her undies every day.
Make soothing noises for fear of being admitted with swollen ankles and catching something nasty.
4.45pm: Escape for retail therapy on the way home. Spend too much.
9pm: Suffer BBC’s Secret Agent for review tomorrow. At least I can have a G&T at the same time.
Another easy leader day: BBC and BNP. Review and leader to subs by 8.30am. Hurrah! Normality is resuming in ankle area. Cancel kidney transplant.
Pull together next week’s features schedule. Tear hair out over one columnist’s adventure (again) with apostrophes and shed what’s left over another’s withering response to Honours List fiddlingsâ€¦ told you he’d take it personally. Hate Fridays. Too much to do and Crystal Balls (aka forward planning meeting).
2pm: Swift sarnie and tea and pause to marvel again at the good fortune and infinite glamour of this fabulous life. Bugger! Haven’t opened mail yet.
3.30pm: Graham Ross, great friend and PR for Cobblers Cove, Barbados, calls to invite me to join him there for a week in the New Year. Pop on my travel ed’s hat and think about it for a whole half second – doesn’t do to sound too eager. “Absobloodylutely!”.
Monday. God’s bad joke. And an early start. Two double murders on our patch on Sunday. Real traditional evening paper stuff, this is YEP at its best. There’s a familiar buzz in the office. We’re ahead of the field and it’ll be a good sales day. Leader and reviews out of the way by 8.30am. Write my column for tomorrow. Blunkett blames women for failing to control men’s binge drinking. It’s a gift.
Set up lunch interview with blunt Yorkshire artist known for sticking two fingers up at art establishment – he’s always good value, great gossip and a binge drinker. Council tax rows shaping up nicely for follow-ups and tomorrow’s leader. Keep an eye on that while priming local family lawyers, single mums, estranged dads, etc, to respond to parental access Green Paper out later this week. Arts writer gone off sick. Better get ringing round theatres, galleries and the like to pull a couple of pages together for Thursday. Like I said: God’s bad joke.
Government blaming press for fuss over council tax rises. So, it was true. Plain sailing leader-wise then.
News team still ahead on murders coverage. Travel feature filed nice and early for tomorrow. Main and supplement features all out in good time, columns all in. Done and dusted.
Might as well write my Thursday column while there’s a lull. May even manage a lunch break.
12.10pm: They’ve scrapped our Supertram! New Transport Strategy – strategy for no transport – has scrapped Leeds light rail scheme.
£40m, already spent, down the pan.
No lunch, no lull, no public transport, no end to demonising drivers. Change tomorrow’s leader page.
1.30pm: Start writing two-page analysis of a government taking us nowhere. Late finish again.
Green Paper day. Prepare to be knee-deep in musing lawyers. Usual stuff until women’s ed pops up with idea for feature on surprisingly sexy politicians. Turns out she’s fancied John Reid since being on a bus with him and has a thing for Tony Blair.
Three of us own up to our SSPs. Did I scoff at her for her Reid fixation? No, I did not. So what then is so damned pervy about my taking a shine to Michael Portillo and Hilary Benn?
Regional assemblies – aka jobs for the boys – provide healthy leader fodder first thing.
8.30am: There’s news of an ‘Oops’.
Pro-Yorkshire Assembly worthies are popping in here to be interviewed by local government reporter at noon today. They’re not going to like it.
9.30am: Call to confirm early lunch with artist chap – which neatly gets me out of the way until they’ve moved on. Early editions out with cracking exclusive from our crime man on double murders manhunt.
10.10am: Another ‘Oops’. My new byline picture. Beat up photographer, saying “make me look 25 and eight stones, not 80 and 25 stones”. Mental note: eat very little at lunch and look on bright side – at least I don’t have to find a proper jobâ€¦ yet.